Why I Love To Be Rubbished
When the boss of one of the biggest communications groups in the world rubbished me and my reputation for a full 10 minutes, why was my reaction one of delight and high fives? Here’s the answer.
A former colleague had a meeting with the boss of one of the world’s biggest marketing communications groups. Let’s call him ‘The Boss’, with apologies to Bruce. A mutual associate beamed down the phone: “Our friend told me The Boss spent 10 minutes of their meeting rubbishing YOU.”
I was bemused. I’d never even met The Boss. I was far down the pecking order when our worlds were vaguely associated. How and why on earth had he even heard of me? Then I remembered what I had done to give him the absolute shits. You see, as I have got older, I have become obsessed with boldness – in saying what I really think and feel, and doing what I believe is the right best thing to do, irrespective of the consequences. Here’s the price I pay:
The bolder the action, the more polarising the reaction.
Thanks to Josh Strawcznski who reminded me of that truth at breakfast last week. As creative leader Rob told me over a coffee in Cannes: “Don’t be liked. Be loved. Or loathed. But ‘liked’ is a certain path to oblivion.”
I remembered what I had done years prior to get on The Boss’s ‘naughty boy who deserves a slap’ black list. It was a bold proposed move that disrupted and broke ‘rules.’ It apparently drove The Boss up the wall. No doubt my name was bandied around as the architect of such impertinence. Fair enough- I was! But he wasn’t my boss – and never will be – so I didn’t care in the slightest.
I was reminded of this price of boldness when I gave a speech last week to close the brilliant CommsCon PR industry conference in Sydney (PR types- book now for the PRIA conference in Perth in November by the way).
I told the truth about my view of the future of the PR industry, saying at least half of the 400 or so Sydney PR agencies registered on the Yellow Pages site will be losing money or have closed by 2020. A bold prediction. A wake-up call to embrace change. The response? A comment from of course an unnamed source responding to an article on my speech, along the lines of: “Chris is a snake oil salesman and his words have no credibility.” Wow. How does he know me so well?!!
Here’s my point. Remember one of the key values of Calvin Klein. “Dance With Controversy.” Be prepared to be bold- to do and say brave things that are the right things to do and say. Speak with candour- truth without malice. Make a difference. Stir it up a bit. Grab attention. Move that frickin dial.
And be prepared for the polarised reaction.
Be prepared for the ‘loathing’, and the gloating when you get rubbished. Or the shamefulness of comment when they don’t even have the guts to put their name to it. The feedback will hurt. But it is more than adequately compensated by all the positive reaction you get- and also the power of looking yourself in the mirror and saying to yourself: “Well done- I am proud of you.”
The older you get, the more you realise it’s okay not to be liked by everyone. And it’s critical we don’t waste time and energy sitting in the path to oblivion – to fence-sit and sprout platitudes that keep the keel even.
Be bold. Be brave. Dance with controversy. Push it. Do and say what needs to be said to make a positive difference. And try not to let the turkeys get you down.